LONDON, ONT. -- Intensive Care Units across the province are being stretched to their limits with COVID-19 patients, but so far London area hospitals have avoided the worst of it.

That could soon change, however, warns the Chief of Medicine for London Health Sciences Centre.

“Although we’re relatively spared today, I think it will be a very different story by this time next week,” said Dr. Adam Dukelow.

The latest Critical Care Services Ontario report, obtained by CTV News, showed there are currently 421 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care units (ICUs) across the province.

The total marks the highest number of COVID-19 patients in critical care at one time since the pandemic began. The last time the ICU admission total surpassed 400 was in January during the height of the pandemic’s second wave.

At LHSC there are currently 18 patients being treated for COVID-19, with five or fewer in ICU/Critical Care.

Dr. Adam Dukelow

LHSC's Dr. Adam Dukelow.

Dr. Dukelow said said the next few days will be very telling.

“There’s two things that will happen in the next couple of days. One, we are very likely to receive patients from outside of London as the ICUs to our east become over-capacity. And the other thing is that with the rising case counts locally, we know that within days or a week or so, some of those cases will wind up in hospital, and some of those cases will wind up in our ICUs.”

Middlesex-London reported 97 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday- the highest one day total since January 16th when 116 cases were reported.

“That’s just staggering,” said London Mayor Ed Holder. “And when we’ve expressed our great concern over the last many days the numbers have continued to escalate, and we’ve been asking Londoners to take precautionary steps necessary to avoid this, most do. Having said it, there are too many that don’t.”

Mayor Holder warns that further restrictions from the province could be coming.

“With the numbers that we’ve seen today, would I be shocked if the province went into lockdown? Not at all. Would I be shocked if London itself went into lockdown? I would not be surprised.”

He has a message for families who want to get together this long holiday weekend.

“If you have to get together, be mindful of the crowd size and the distancing, but do it outside.”

With files from CTV Toronto's Miriam Katawazi